A partial shutdown against the government’s decision to impose property tax in the Union Territory hit life in Jammu, the region once again taking the lead in opposing policies of the BJP-led Centre.
The shutdown came on a day an Opposition meeting chaired by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah decided to meet the Election Commission in Delhi for early Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir and called for restoration of its statehood.
Farooq later told a media conference that an atmosphere of uncertainty prevailed in Jammu and Kashmir and their delegation would meet national political parties in Delhi to apprise them about the situation.
The NC president wondered why elections were not being held here despite claims of normality by the Centre and its decision to organise G20 meetings in the Union Territory. Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government since 2018.
Empty chairs at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court complex in Jammu on Saturday after the lawyers’ association announced a suspension of work in support of a bandh call against the imposition of property tax in the Union Territory. PTI photo
The strike call by Jammu’s main traders’ body, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, evoked a mixed response with many areas observing a shutdown, although traffic was largely normal.
Chamber president Arun Gupta said the call was successful despite alleged efforts by the government to derail it. He claimed his call received internal support from the BJP in addition to open support from all other political parties.
Jammu’s Dogra Hindu heartland, which includes Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and Samba, has been protesting against the government’s policies despite cheering for the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019. Kashmir, on the contrary, has been largely silenced by the government’s iron-fist policy.
The All J&K Transport Welfare Association was not a part of Saturday’s strike, claiming they were not taken into confidence by the traders’ body.
Gupta told reporters that complete traffic disruption would have caused inconvenience to the people, particularly students appearing in exams, and his outfit wanted to avoid that.
Jammu lawyers joined the shutdown.
Lt governor Manoj Sinha said his doors were open for dialogue and people were welcome to give their suggestions. He gave no indication that the taxes would be withdrawn.